36221 Pictorial Health Warnings on Cigarette Packets: A Case of South Korea Having the World's Second Highest Smoking Rate

Jay (Hyunjae) Yu, Faculty, Sogang University, School of Communication, South Korea, Seoul, Korea, South Korea

Pictorial Health Warnings on Cigarette Packets: A Case of South Korea Having the World’s Second Highest Smoking Rate

Background:  Despite the fact that approximately 70 different countries have adopted legislation mandating pictorial warnings on cigarette packets, some countries, including South Korea, remain hesitant about introducing such legislation. South Korea is a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and is therefore obliged to follow all of the WHO recommendations (i.e., use of PWCPs) to reduce the national smoking rate; however, for various reasons, there are still no pictorial warnings on cigarette packets in Korea as of 2015.

Program background:  Since 2007, there have been more than 10 attempts to establish official legislation stipulating the use of PWCPs in Korea, via the introduction of related bills by various policymakers. However, the trials were unsuccessful, as some members of congress were opposed to the use of PWCPs and expressed the opinion that it could violate smokers’ right to the “pursuit of happiness”. Groups that supported the introduction of this legislation, such as the Korean Association on Smoking or Health, suggested that the tobacco companies would lobby some members of congress, but this has not been confirmed.  

Evaluation Methods and Results:  In most of the experiments, the combination of a high level of fear in fear appeals and scientific information demonstrated the highest agreement for the question concerning intention to cease smoking. The statement provided to participants following exposure to each PWCP was “Following exposure to the PWCP, I think that I or others would consider smoking cessation.” The third experiment examined the most effective combination of independent variables for “A picture showing the aftereffects of physical disability or laryngotomy,” and the results indicated that, unlike the other experiments, the combination of high level of fear and narrative information was most effective for use in PWCP production.

Conclusions:   The results of this study provided insight into the use of narrative information in some situations. When producing a PWCP using a picture showing the aftereffects of physical disabilities, narrative information combined with an emotional approach could be effective.

Implications for research and/or practice:  Despite the fact that the IVs used in this study were chosen on according to the results of a number of previous studies examining health-related communication, other variables should be considered in future studies. As indicated in the literature review, the WHO and EU suggested that multiple sets of pictorial warnings should be prepared. Therefore, PWCPs should be changed regularly, as participants’ sensitivity is reduced with repeated exposure to the same picture. To develop diverse types of PWCP that produce superior effects, other variables should also be assessed. Factors that have been used in previous studies and those with the potential for use in Korean PWCPs should be examined in future studies.